Funding the Industry’s Future Health By Tim Hodson

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it would be allocating approximately $58 million to support 513 projects with partners in 53 states and territories, and the District of Columbia. The funding is part of Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill.

The targeted projects aim to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. horticulture, agriculture and the environment, and to ensure the availability of a healthy supply of clean planting stock.

These funds should help provide growers with a healthy future. By funding key research projects, growers will gain access to critical research to help them produce healthy and profitable plants in the future. Hopefully, this funding also will help provide a framework for the horticulture industry’s needs in the next Farm Bill.

Among the horticulture “priority projects” that will receive USDA-APHIS funding are:

  • $185,000 in funding for two projects addressing downy mildews;
  • $116,000 in industry-relevant pollinator projects;
  • Nearly $700,000 for work addressing Phytophthora ramorum and a newer emerging threat, tentaculata. This funding includes program support for the National Ornamentals Research Site at Dominican University of California, a unique facility that enables regulated Phytophthora work to be undertaken in a nursery- like environment;
  • $55,000 for developing best management practices to address crown gall of Loropetalum, an emerging disease threat;
  • $84,000 to support continued development of the Plant Risk Analysis tool for evaluating a plant’s invasiveness potential. Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) had provided early funding for this project; and
  • Approximately $700,000 in funding for coordinated projects to address the threat of boxwood blight, Calonectria pseudonaviculata.

In FY 2017, the HRI also will receive $105,600 in funding to advance the Systems Approach for Nursery Certification pilot program, a cooperative effort of the National Plant Board, industry and USDA-APHIS.

And approximately $4.6 million will go to 22 centers that are part of the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). NCPN supports the safe importation, pathogen testing, and release to the private sector of propagative material.

Research projects like these are essential to the future of our industry. “The 10007 program has become a major tool for pest prevention and mitigation solutions,” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s senior vice president for advocacy and research.

Regelbrugge and his team in Washington continue to work diligently to ensure that the critical issues that our industry face get the attention and funding that they deserve.

Thanks to their hard work and dedication research dollars are helping our industry by funding key projects. Hopefully, the next Farm Bill will provide even more financial resources to grow a healthier future.

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